King County Sheriff starts mediation program for citizen complaints

From staff reports:

Citizens who have complaints with King County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) deputies will now have another avenue to address their issues, thanks to a new mediation process being implemented by the King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight.

According to KCSO, the oversight office "will identify cases in which parties might benefit from a face-to-face discussion." Mediation will be performed by the King County Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution, and it's hoped it will "create an opportunity for meaningful and confidential discussion between the parties."

"Too often, those who have encountered the police during a traffic stop or during a police enforcement operation feel that they were detained unlawfully or that the deputy was rude and discourteous," said program director Charles Gaither. "The Office of Law Enforcement Oversight's mediation program will provide a mechanism to receive these allegations and improve relationships between the community and Sheriff's Office."

KCSO sees this new process as beneficiary because "mediation…allows a community member and a deputy to resolve the complaint themselves, rather than depend on the judgment of others." Mediation, the sheriff's office notes, is also a "much faster process and can make a real difference in appreciating conflicting points of view."

Some of the complaints that might be subject to the new mediation program include, but are not limited to:

• Discourtesy

• Rudeness

• Use of profanity

• Racial profiling

• Procedural issues related to pedestrian, traffic stops, or police action

• Vehicle operations (speeding, use of sirens, code responses)

"Mediation is an important tool for resolving differences between community members and Sheriff Deputies," said Gaither. "This is a huge step forward and I hope it will be embraced by the Sheriff's Office and members of community."

For more information on the new program, contact Veronika Singh at (206) 263-8870.


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